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Biden Picks White House Labor Adviser With Obama DOL Roots

Feb. 5, 2021, 10:49 PM

President Joe Biden has selected Pronita Gupta, a former Obama-era official at the U.S. Department of Labor, to be a senior White House adviser on labor policy, according to three people familiar with the decision.

Gupta serves as special assistant to the president for labor and workers, the sources said. She started in recent days, one of the sources said. Gupta most recently was director of job quality at the Center for Law and Social Policy, a left-leaning think tank where her portfolio included job training and paid family and medical leave. She served as deputy director of DOL’s Women’s Bureau during the Obama administration.

Her role is within the White House Domestic Policy Council. It offers her an opportunity to help shape Biden’s workplace agenda by working with the Labor Department, National Labor Relations Board, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to coordinate policy, regulations, and personnel decisions.

The sources requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly discuss the personnel move. A White House spokesperson declined to comment, and efforts to contact Gupta directly were unsuccessful.

Gupta’s 25-year career has included multiple workers’ rights and progressive roles, including as a consultant for the Service Employees International Union, a senior director at Women Donors Network, and as research director at Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy.

Her portfolio as White House labor adviser is largely undefined; previous appointees have wielded varying levels of influence and job responsibility depending on the president’s needs and relationship with the labor secretary.

Former President Donald Trump’s labor adviser on the Domestic Policy Council, James Sherk—a onetime Heritage Foundation economist—butted heads with Trump’s first labor secretary, Alexander Acosta, leading to the stalling of regulatory and personnel moves. Sherk continued to serve in the role after Acosta was replaced by Eugene Scalia, with both remaining until the end of Trump’s term.

Biden’s nominee for labor secretary, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, faces a committee vote next week.

To contact the reporters on this story: Ian Kullgren in Washington at ikullgren@bloombergindustry.com; Ben Penn in Washington at bpenn@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: John Lauinger at jlauinger@bloomberglaw.com; Andrew Harris at aharris@bloomberglaw.com

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